One finds University of Northwestern Alumni in all kinds of different places and in all different walks of life. Jodi Richert ’92 is currently a Lead Program Manager at Target, a member of the UNW Alumni Council and President’s Advisory Council, and an actively engaged alumna. I recently had the chance to catch up with Jodi about reconnecting with UNW and her own college experience.
Q: So, Jodi, I know that recently you have really reconnected with Northwestern. How exactly did this happen?
Ironically, after I graduated from Northwestern, it never occurred to me to stay connected. There was no one telling me to come to events or get in touch with an Alumni Relations department. I actually reconnected, somewhat randomly a few years ago, through a UNW Alumni Connection event at Target headquarters. One thing lead to another, and I was given the chance to join the President’s Advisory Council. Since then my husband, Rob, and I have looked for new ways to become involved at Northwestern. We are very committed to the mission and vision of Northwestern.
Q: How do you try to impact the school and the students?
We joyfully give financially and we really enjoy pouring into UNW in whatever ways we can. As businesspeople, my husband and I greatly enjoy helping students in their professional pursuits. As a member of Dr. Cureton’s council for the past few years, I have become a really big fan of his leadership and his love for Northwestern. Dr. Cureton sincerely desires our feedback. As a musician, I look for opportunities to share my experience especially with the piano students.
Q: Given your focus on supporting students, what do you think is the most important part of Northwestern’s mission and vison?
Standing up for Biblical truth is the most important thing. Northwestern is committed to teaching students biblical truth. Rob and I want to help raise up the next generation of Christian leaders. We want UNW graduates to be business leaders, politicians, teachers, etc. The phrase that always comes to mind for us from Dr. Cureton is “countercultural.” We look forward to seeing Northwestern graduates who are committed to their faith, grounded on Biblical truth, not the ever-changing beliefs of contemporary culture.
Q: What then, do you think will be the biggest challenge students will face when they leave UNW?
Apathy and pressure to conform. Don’t think that you are going to feel the same sense of Christian community when you leave Northwestern; it simply doesn’t work like that for most graduates. The challenge is to not become lukewarm, to continue to be salt and light.
Q: What made you decide to attend Northwestern?
I was planning on moving from Tampa, FL and attending Wheaton like my mother. Until my junior year, I had never heard of Northwestern. One summer, I attended a Christian camp in WI and one of my camp counselors was a Northwestern staff member. She introduced me to the school, and I wound up on a tour and spent the night in the dorms. It was very evident to me then that students at Northwestern took their faith very seriously; it seemed a forethought and not an afterthought. This was very different than other Christian schools I visited in Minnesota, and I really liked that.
Q: What was your favorite thing about the school?
The Northwestern Choir. It was my favorite when I was here and still is now. Though, I will say, UNW musical theatre is a close second. I have been a busy accompanist for decades now but Northwestern provided a wonderful foundation for my music career.
Q: You studied music, yet now you work in business. How did you get into business?
I work in facilities management for all Target stores, which I very much enjoy. Ironically, I got into business through music. I was working for Public Radio MusicSource at the time which wound up being acquired by Target. A few people I knew were being hired there and I was fortunate to get hired in an entry level position 15 years ago and have grown from there.
Q: So, as a musician, businessperson, and connected Northwestern graduate, what advice do you give students today?
Build and value relationships. This is important in all areas of life. You need to have good relationships to be effective in anything you do. Keep your faith prominent. Pursue God and strive to be salt and light. Keep being salty.